Marines returning from Iraq visit Jeff-Craig to say thanks for support


Last week, two Marines who have just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq visited the students at Jefferson-Craig Elementary School to thank them for sponsoring a fundraiser to make money to purchase items for the care boxes that were sent to the soldiers.

One of the Marines, Sergeant Jason Beyer, has a local tie — Jill Hutcherson of Patriot is his aunt. The other Marine, Sergeant Jose Gomez, wanted to come to Vevay to also thank the children.

Sergeant Gomez is from California, and that is where both of the soldiers are stationed at the current time.

Both of the Marines have done tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Japan and many other parts of the world. Sergeant Beyer has been in the Marine Corps for six years and Sergeant Gomez has been a Marine for eight years.

Before going to the school, the Marines visited the Vevay American Legion Post 185 and had lunch with Post Commander Lowell Sullivan, and Post Adjutant, Bob Reed. They thanked the Legion and Auxiliary for what they do for veterans, and both said that when they get out of the military, they want to lobby on behalf of all veterans for better health care and benefits.

The Legionnaires, in turn, thanked the Marines for serving their country, and welcomed them home. Also having lunch with them were Jill Hutcherson, Jean Humphreys and Rita Sullivan.

The Marines also visited the French Class at Switzerland County High School. They had been sending letters and packages to Sergeant Beyer and his unit.

Upon entering the gym at Jefferson-Craig, the Marines were met with a standing ovation and thunderous applause. Even the students, as young as they are, understood that these two soldiers have been fighting terrorism so they may continue to be free.

Darrell Hansel, Principal at Jeff-Craig introduced the Marines and then asked Student Council sponsor Joanne Gaudin to explain what the students had done to raise almost $300 which was donated to the American Legion Auxiliary to purchase items and send care packages.

The Marines then thanked the students for everything they had done to help them out. They had both been in Iraq for two tours, one in the summer, but this tour was during the winter, and Thanksgiving and Christmas was especially hard for them to be away from their families. The packages helped lift their morale and was welcomed by his entire unit. Another highlight were the Valentine cards that students from all Switzerland County Schools made and were sent to the soldiers.

The Marines could hardly express their thanks to everyone for supporting them. An outstanding statement was made by Sergeant Beyer when he thanked his audience.

“Some day, some of you may be in the military in a foreign country, and maybe my children may be raising money to send you the same kind of packages,” He said. “That’s what it means to be an American, to continue helping and supporting one another.”

As the two Marines left the gym, they could hear the students chanting, “USA, USA”.

“I can hardly describe how exciting it was to see the expression on the faces of those two young Marines as they watched the audience and how pleasing it was to see such support flowing from elementary children,” Darrell Hansel said. “Even before I could finish the introductions, the entire gym erupted into an impromptu standing ovation. Students were asking many relevant questions and were very interested in the soldiers’ stories.”